In Honor of Moms Who Abhor Dirt but Nevertheless Agreed to Go Camping on Mother’s Day

All y’all with your Facebook posts of Mother’s -Day breakfasts over French pastries and day-long spa retreats and uninterrupted hours with your delicious reading… phthbthphth. *I’m* the super martyr mom. I went camping. With kids. And a sinus infection. Pay attention to me!

We spent a lovely weekend camping at Wallace Falls. The fact that the camping weekend coincided with Mother’s Day weekend was unintended and should not be construed as my chosen Mother’s Day activity. Nor, indeed, should it prevent me from shutting myself in my room the following Sunday and ignoring the demands of any critter under five feet tall—whether feline or toddler. I am owed. In payment, I accept free time, paid in four-hour denominations.

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Can you tell they’re sullen?

I haven’t much to say about our camping trip other than the weather was August-like and the Puppy was bored. He announced his boredom repeatedly. I’m not surprised at a tweenager’s disdain of camping with family, but a five-year-old’s? Isn’t he supposed to pass the time rolling in ketchup and eating dirt? The Kitten found plenty to do, and all her activities centered on tormenting the Puppy. Camping with whiners! And me too sick to drink after we sequestered the kids for the night.

All this, but still bored.

All this, but still bored.

In discussing the weekend with my Papa afterwards, I came to realize why this camping trip failed to amuse Puppy as have previous trips: It lacked critters. Though we hiked through old-growth forest and explored the foliage around our campsite, we never happened upon any bugs or worms… small woodland creatures… nothing for Puppy to torture with his curiosity. This might seem a positive scenario for many campers, but it’s lidocaine to a preschooler’s spirit. Next time, I’ll pack crickets.

Camp hands. We must have done something right for him to be this dirty, yeah?

Camp hands. We must have done something right for him to be this dirty, yeah?

I’m sorry, Husband, to keep harping on the negatives of the trip (it was actually a wonderful excursion! But for the ways it wasn’t), I also got crapola in the way of photos. And, for me, the anticipation of photographic coups is the only reason to camp. A .0023% return on my photographic effort makes me maudlin. Pair that with a sinus infection, and I’m downright pissy.

I did, however, get a fairly awesome photo of the Puppy peeing in the woods. I can’t post it here, lest my work place block my blog for pornography again, so you’ll just have to trust me. I even got the stream – à la Calvin & Hobbes. That capture validates maybe… 22% of the trip.

Searching for Captain Hook. I think that makes him Peter Pan, but I don't know that he'd agree.

Searching for Captain Hook. I think that makes him Peter Pan, but I don’t know that he’d agree.

I prefer XO over Tinkerbell. The XO is the one who makes the sailors quiver.

I prefer XO over Tinkerbell. The XO is the one who makes the sailors quiver in fear– not the captain.

I’m going to close here, but before I do, I’d like to offer up a prayer: Let my marriage never be one that, when a friend sends me a holiday card and the card is returned-to-sender because the address is no longer mine, the friend sits on the holiday card for five months, afraid to ask me for my new address because she assumes the address change is due to divorce. Amen.

Swabbing the deck

Swabbing the deck

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A 21st Century White Elephant
Or: On Receiving a Bonsai Tree as an Anniversary Present

Hey there Benign Reader– I’ve missed you. You, me? Yeah… (Said in Elmo voice. Elmo voce!) I’ve been thinking about marriage lately. Mine, specifically, and the intolerable burden of attending to the metaphors associated with it. I’m speaking of the bonsai tree my cunningly creative father gave us on our second wedding anniversary.

Who got a present? What's a second anniversary? Did I get something on my second anniversary? I think I'm due a present for my second anniversary.

Who got a present? What’s a second anniversary? Did I get something on my second anniversary? I think I’m due a present for my second anniversary.

It’s a great anniversary gift idea, I’ll grant you: “Take this bonsai tree and care for it with a tender heart, just as you should tend to your marriage.” It’s clearly intended metaphorically, as well as, you know, botanically. But what if you have a keen sense of metaphor paired with a black thumb?

I am morally obliged to keep this tree alive. Nay, not simply alive; it must thrive. Yet, I’ve been known to kill philodendrons—the heartiest house plant extant—with my earnest attentions. How am I going to keep this tree going?

The problem isn’t simply that I’m ignorant of bonsai care; I’m also uninterested in learning about it. It’s like financial planning; I know it’s important, but GOD is it boring. I’ll rank bonsai education ahead of anything to do with money management, but it still ranks below my Netflix queue.

When I'm married, I'll tend to it like a mother tends to her baby. Until something cuter comes along. Kitty!

When I’m married, I’ll tend to it like a mother tends to her baby. Until I grow bored. Oh look– a kitty!

Did you read what I just wrote? Caring for my bonsai tree doesn’t interest me; I’d rather watch Orange is the New Black. Now replace bonsai tree with marriage and join me in my bondage. There is nothing I can do, say, or think with respect to that bonsai, that isn’t automatically a reflection of my actions, words, and thoughts about my marriage. Witness:

  • Is my marriage too dry? Maybe it’s supposed to be dry. I don’t want to drown it, though… maybe it’ll be stronger if I just ignore it for now.
  • My marriage is outgrowing its pot. I already repotted it once—do I have to again? How long does this repotting continue? Maybe it’s like A Fish Out of Water; instead of repeatedly giving it a bigger pot, I should just feed it less.
  • I think I’m supposed to prune my marriage from time to time, but where do I make the cuts? And how can I be sure cutting will promote growth? This just goes against all my instincts—better just to let it go.
  • Can my marriage survive outdoors?
  • I’m supposed to dust my marriage?! When will the insanity cease? Water doesn’t cut it—should I use Simple Green? Maybe a terrarium would have been a better idea.
  • I can display my marriage in this airy spot where others can view it and the sun can drench it, but then the kids will climb over it and the cat will chew on it and puke up the pieces later. Tucking my marriage into a dark corner seems the safer bet.
  • My marriage keeps shedding leaves, but it doesn’t seem to have any glaring bald spots so it’s probably meant to be that way.

Thank you for the clever anniversary gift, Papa! I owe you one.

The state of my marriage?

The state of my marriage?

Before I go, here’s a little reminiscence Husband and I shared recently:

Hey Husband, remember that time we invited the neighbor boy over and let all three kids play, unattended and with semi-permanent paints?

Yeah… that was memorable.

We were so young.

It was 30 minutes ago.

Do you think we’ll have to replace the dry wall?

I should tidy things up around here… When was the last time I looked at any of those links on the right? And the banner at top… you’d never know the Kitten is actually a walking human being now. There’s a defunct countdown in the bottom margin, and those FAQs aren’t writing themselves. Though, actually… I think FAQs are supposed to write themselves, yeah? Got any questions for me? And before you go there: The meaning of life is 42 and the average annual rainfall of the Amazon river basin is 80 inches.

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